I just reached the 70,000 word point in my balloonist story and it occurred to me that I might actually finish this thing sometime in the not distant future!

This is the story that called to me most strongly when I started writing again after the crisis of my husband’s stroke. Since it was a time of creative recovery, I decided to just enjoy the process and not worry about what I was going to do with the result. The industry was (and still is) changing a lot and once the work was finished, I could think about whether to return to traditional publishing or go indie with it. I was happy that there would be options.

Now that the time for a decision is getting closer, I’m reviewing those options more closely. I don’t think there’s one clear answer at this point that works for every writer. I think there are a lot of factors that work into that decision and would never criticize anyone else’s choices. I just have to decide what seems best for this story.

There are good reasons to try the traditional publishing route, leaving self-publishing as a fall back. It’s still a very meaningful accomplishment to get through the gates of traditional publishing. I suspect that for many readers, it’s one potential predictor of quality that helps them with purchasing choices. Traditionally published books have been professionally edited. Traditional publishing is still the way to get into brick-and-mortar bookstores. Traditionally published books are eligible for established contests, like RWA’s RITA. It’s easier to get professional reviews for traditionally published books.

On the other hand, my balloonist story might do better as an indie book. For one thing, it is a bit out of the normal stream and lacks some of the elements that seem very common right now. No duke, no courtesan—again, no criticism against duke/courtesan stories, this just isn’t one. Yet I believe in this story and think there is a potential audience for it. The modest success I’ve achieved independently publishing my reissues may help. Perhaps the readers who enjoyed these reissues will take a chance on a new story?

This book will also go through my talented and long-suffering critique partners, as my other books have done. Said talented and long-suffering critique partners have tended to leave little for my professional editors to do. So I think the quality of writing would not suffer if I go indie.

For those readers who prefer a paper book, I would plan to have a Print on Demand version available. It is easier to price ebooks competitively, but I would still strive for that with a POD version. Lastly, I have enjoyed the indie process. Managing the business end was a little scary at first, but now I enjoy having the immediate visibility into my sales, the ability to develop my own strategies, and greater control over cover art.

Of course, this is my decision to make, but I am interested in what you think. How do you think readers make their buying decisions when looking at traditionally published versus indie books? Am I asking myself the right questions?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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7 Responses to Decisions

  1. RomanceSlut says:

    For me personally, it makes not one iota of difference if a story is published “traditionally” or “indie”. It’s the story, the writing and the characters I care about. I probably prefer the genre-crossing stories, which seem to be best accommodated by the indie route, but only very slightly more than the traditional stories.

    For me, it is always a matter of seeing what my goodreads friends are reading and then going with their recommendations. I also go to netgalley or goodreads firsts to see what ARCs are out there (even if I’m not selected to receive one, it lets me know what’s out there).

    As a reader, I view all types of books equally, regardless of how they are published. I’m not prejudiced for or against traditional or indie publications, although as a buyer it always seems that indie books represent more value for money on the whole (I don’t know whether this is related to pricing or just the feeling you are getting a very different, unique story, and that that is worth more to me as a reader).

    I started reading kindle books way back in 2007, and it is always my personal preference (I travel a fair amount for work), so I’m sure that has a lot to do with my personal attitude, but I view all ebooks on my reader equally regardless of how they got on it in the first place.

  2. Elena Greene says:

    Thanks for the reassurances, RomanceSlut!

  3. Diane Gaston says:

    This truly is an individual decision.

    I’ve no doubt that your work is good enough for traditional publishing. You never know. They might be looking for something a little different.

    If you are having some interest in your republished books, this might be the best time to indy publish the Balloonist story. Strike while the iron is hot, so to speak.

    It is exciting that there are options for all of us, though, isn’t it?

  4. Judy says:

    I’ve read traditionally published books that weren’t edited (if they were, they were sloppy). I’ve read indie books that were well edited somewhere along the way. It depends on the author. Traditional or indie doesn’t seem to matter much anymore. I considered both, and decided to go with a small independent publishing house, Desert Breeze Publishing. They were looking for stories a little outside the formula found in traditional publishing houses. There are a lot of small publishing companies out there. Kris Tualla has indie published and is publishing with DBP. What traditional offers that indie does not: Name recognition and traditional bookstores. Having said that, we have a local secondhand bookstore that sells indie published books, Dog-Eared Pages Used Books. They’re very supportive of indie authors. The rules are changing. Best wishes with whatever you decide.

  5. I read both traditionally published books and indie books – mostly paper, but many are Kindle books too. I think the most important thing is to do what you think is best for this story. It is your “baby” and those of us who enjoy your books will certainly snap it up in whatever form you decided it should take! Looking forward to reading it.

  6. Jane George says:

    IMO, it mostly depends on your timeframe (do you have the time it takes to go through traditional channels?) and the degree of control you want to have over your story.

    As others have said, it’s your decision. Vive le choice!

  7. Elena Greene says:

    Thanks for all the insights, everyone. Jane, I forgot to mention timing but it is another factor I’m seriously thinking about. Traditional publishers can take months or even years to respond…and I have readers asking when this book will come out. Which is very heartwarming.

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